Apr 24, 2009, 8:55 AM
Members of the National Assembly last Wednesday argued about the constitutionality of the Gambia becoming a monarchy, a topic that has generated a lot of attention and publicity in recent weeks.
First to start, during the debate on the adjournment motion, was the minority leader and Member for Kiang West constituency, Hon. Momodou LK Sanneh, who declared as “impossible” the idea of making the country a monarchy, which is being campaigned for by some chiefs across the country.
Hon. Sanneh warned chiefs spearheading the campaign to desist from the practice, as the Gambia is a multi-party democracy with many political parties registered by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
“Madam Speaker, these people should make themselves productive, honest and make sure that they fulfill their responsibilities, rather than engaging in a campaign about something that is impossible,” Hon. Sanneh said, adding that the idea is not in the best interest of the country.
“Even those countries under a monarchical system are trying to do away with the idea, so why should we try to bring this system to the Gambia”, the opposition leader in parliament pointed out.
“Who asked them to go about the campaign?” Hon Sanneh asked, noting that the mandate of those spearheading the campaign (the chiefs) does not cover working for the Gambia to become a monarchy.
The minority leader urged the minister for Local Government and Lands to warn those chiefs spearheading the campaign to desist from doing so, adding that this is not within their mandate.
“In fact, they have no right to do so, and they are not politicians,” he further noted.
“Madam Speaker, if these chiefs want recognition, let them do what is right and correct, but going around doing such campaigns is not in the best interest of this country and the Gambian people,” minority leader Sanneh further declared.
Hon. Abdou Jarjue, member for Kombo Central and of the party in government, described as “constitutional”, the campaign by the chiefs for the introduction of a monarchy in the country.
“Madam Speaker, I don’t think it is unconstitutional for the chiefs to take this bold initiative,” he said, adding that the chiefs are expressing their constitutional rights.
According to him, it is now up to the Gambian people to determine whether or not to go in for a monarchy.
“So the chiefs are on the right track because, to me, they are Gambians, and the constitution is not saying it is only the legislature or the political chairmen who have the power to say this is what we want,” Hon. Jarjue opined.
“All I believe in is that the constitution has given the right to every Gambia to do whatever you want in as much as you do not go against it. So to me, the chiefs have the right to advocate for whatever rule they want to exist in the Gambia so long as it is in line with what the majority endorses,” he declared.
Nominated Member Hon. Seedy Njie and Hon. Abdoulie Saine of Banjul Central both concurred with the minority leader that it was not President Yahya Jammeh who ordered the chiefs to campaign for a monarchy in the Gambia.
However, they were quick to add that it is left to the Gambian people to decide what they want for their country.
Both Hon. Njie and Hon. Saine also expressed the view that the chiefs have the constitutional right to voice out their views.
Hon. Abdoulie Saine, in addition, stated that, “As far as Banjul is concerned, we endorse the idea.”